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Injury-free Essien wants titles

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien is hoping to put two injury-plagued seasons behind him by helping the club retain their Premier League title.

The Ghana midfielder missed most of the last campaign after tearing the medial ligament in his left knee while training with Ghana prior to the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

The injury came after a cruciate knee ligament injury restricted the midfielder to 19 appearances the previous season when Chelsea struggled to third place in the league.

The 27-year-old, who has played all five of Chelsea's pre-season games, is now hoping for an injury-free season to allow him to make a big contribution to what will undoubtedly be a long and hard campaign.

"It is good to have a pre-season under my belt. Personally I think I have done well and I keep getting fitter the more games I play," he said.

"I am ready for the season and I am looking forward to it. I think this season could be a big one," he added.

"The past two seasons I didn't take too big a part in, I didn't start in one but finished it, then I started OK last season but didn't finish it. So this year has to be a good one, and hopefully I will stay injury-free and help Chelsea win some trophies."

Essien admits that he was not too disappointed to be hit by the injury, even though it ruled him out of Ghana's World Cup campaign.

"These injuries are part of football, you have to take them when they come and not get too down," he said.

Ricardo Carvalho became the fifth player to leave Chelsea this summer when he completed a £6.7m move to Real Madrid yesterday.

The Portuguese, who followed Joe Cole, Michael Ballack, Juliano Belletti and Deco out of the club, said: "Last year, when Inter wanted me, I said last season would be my last in England. Chelsea agreed to that -- that's why the transfer has been so easy."